The artist Betsabeé Romero has a few pieces on view right now at the Atrio de San Francisco, the tiny outdoor arts space in the shadow of downtown's Torre Latinoamericana. Romero's work focuses on automobiles -- specifically, the iconic bocho -- and how as objects and commodities, cars reflect fissures and contradictions in industrialization, nationalism, globalization, and consumerism.
They are fascinating, satisfying art pieces in any setting. But this small exhibit immediately brought to mind a much more comprehensive sampling of Romero's work that was recently on view at the Museo Amparo in Puebla, which we visited over Christmas. The show, "Lágrimas Negras," or "Black Tears," was a total knock-out.
I've missed a few major-headline solo exhibitions in Mexico the past few years, granted, but I don't think in all my time here I've seen a single artist's vision presented with such clarity, focus, and resolution as that of Romero's show at the Amparo.
For starters, there was so much to look at -- more than 100 works in all. Every room brought new but consistent surprises. This piece for example consisted of chicle pressed into Mesoamerican-style contour cuts in used strips of tire rubber. This piece applied the same gesture -- engraving tires -- to leave indigenous motif patterns on a field of loose sugar. See more here. I remember leaving "Lágrimas Negras" thinking that I've been in contact with very few artists whose work manages to successfully navigate materials, technique, local histories, the global contemporary, and pure whimsy to such original effect as Betsabeé Romero.
In Mexico City she is represented by Galeria Refaccionaria, and in New York by Galeria Ramis Barquet. Watch her talk about her work here. Let's hope a show of equal or greater ambition as Romero's recent display in Puebla is some day brought to the D.F.
* Images courtesy of Cynthia G. Thank you!